Unionists need to realise what suits England does not suit NI

It was the shrug of the shoulders as David Davis said the agriculture industry would now face tariffs of at least 40% which worried me. The fact was, after all, already known to those (albeit seemingly a minority) who had been paying attention.

The agrifood industry is perhaps Northern Ireland’s most successful and important sector. The fact is it often competes with or indeed cooperates with the Republic of Ireland’s. Now, the Republic of Ireland’s industry will have access to the European Single Market with no tariffs applied, and Northern Ireland’s will face tariffs of 40%+. I will leave it to readers work out whether that is good news for the Northern Ireland economy…

But it was already known. Frankly, Northern Ireland’s agrifood industry should have been far more outspoken before 23 June, but it was running scared of the DUP. There is no saving it from here – there is no precedent even for special arrangements (such as Norway’s) to allow anyone outside the Common Agricultural Policy tariff-free access to the Single Market within which that policy operates.

It is too late to recover the damage, although it would still do no harm to point out it was DUP policy to inflict that damage on Northern Ireland’s economy and on its rural community. One thing we should do is learn from it.

So just by the way, David Davis’ shrug of the shoulders should tell us something fairly obvious – what suits England does not always suit Northern Ireland. The DUP is now getting very excited about the prospects for future trade deals – but at least now let us learn the lesson. A trade deal which suits England (and is therefore entered into by the UK) will not always suit Northern Ireland.

Frankly, I rate the UK’s chances of trade deals as extremely low. I can think of only one which is likely – New Zealand. What would such a trade deal consist of? Well, how about exchanging the UK’s financial know-how for New Zealand’s advanced agricultural products? Such a deal would make sense for England. But it would decimate Northern Ireland’s economy by inflicting on it competition on top of removing from it access to its key market.

Some people seriously need to wake up. And not just David Davis.


3 thoughts on “Unionists need to realise what suits England does not suit NI

  1. andyboal says:

    As I observed some time ago, those seeking a trade deal tend to fall into four categories:

    1. EU members with no right to negotiate a trade deal in their own right
    2. Minor trading partners, where any increase in exports will be a drop in the ocean
    3. Major trading partners who already sell us more than we sell them
    4. Ireland and the USA, with whom we actually have a trade surplus, but who really believes that Trump wants to buiy more British?

    Categories 2, 3 and the USA also have one big thing in common. They are far away, and shipping will not help our competitiveness for exports.

  2. Ian, the CAP and agriculture thing fascinates me. Even if the UK were to unilaterally cut tariffs these tariff cuts would be paid for by cuts to farm subsidies would they not be?

    The Swiss and the Norweigans have tariffs.

    There is something of the stench of the “magic money tree” about this Brexit ambition of free trade, higher subsidies and frictionless borders. This sort of hands on economic illiteracy that drives Brexit.

    We can only hope this is a learning curve.

    The question is does harsher migration rules and New Zealand lamb really worth being a non-influential third nation under the WTO like Serbia or Moldova.

  3. The Listener says:

    A tinge of propaganda here! The honest position is that the jury is out until we see the shape of things to come. One wonders if Brexit is a huge poker game over the question of unreasonable movement of labour as it effects countries such as the U.K. and I genuinely fear, the Republic of Ireland.

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